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All that was left was a triangular piece of metal.

Why is it possible to have two verbs here? Is one “was” a verbal? Is there two clauses here?

3 Answers 3

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I think "All that was left" is a noun phrase, and used as the subject of the sentence here.

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  • edited. The subject is all which is modified by a relative clause.
    – gomadeng
    Jan 6, 2021 at 4:23
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Think of it like this:

[All [that was left]] was [a triangular piece of metal].

"All that was left" is a noun phrase, and is the subject of the main clause. "Was" is the verb of the main clause, and "a triangular piece of metal" is the complement of the verb.

"That was left" is a relative clause (a subordinate clause starting with a relative pronoun). Within the relative clause, the pronoun "that" is the subject, "was" is the verb, and "left" is the complement of the verb.

So there is a subordinate clause embedded within the subject of the main clause.

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  • Your way of explaining things is easy to understand. Thank you. Jan 8, 2021 at 5:09
  • Is “that was left” a restrictive relative clause? Jan 8, 2021 at 5:12
  • Thanks - glad to hear it. You're correct, it's a restrictive relative clause.
    – rjpond
    Jan 8, 2021 at 9:08
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All that was left was a triangular piece of metal.

All is a subject(S) and was is a finite verb (real verb)

"that was left" a relative pronoun clause which has "All" as an antecedent.

In this relative clause(that was left), "that" is a subject and it is called "nominative or subjective case of relative pronoun"; here the relative pronoun clause "that was left" modifies the "All".

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  • thank you for your answer Jan 6, 2021 at 2:45
  • So is “All was a triangular piece of metal” an independent clause then? Jan 6, 2021 at 3:05
  • "that was left" is doing function of adjective. Independent clause means main clause or coordinate clause when there is also a subordinate clause, but here is no subordinate clause. Just one sentence is here and the sentence has relative pronoun clause.
    – gomadeng
    Jan 6, 2021 at 3:35
  • but the internet says that A relative clause is a specific type of subordinate clause Jan 6, 2021 at 3:57
  • it could be according to the standard or person that classifies it but subordinate clause usually means, for example, "While I I study English(subordinate), I listened to music(main clause)" or "I like her(main) because she is beautiful(subordinate)".
    – gomadeng
    Jan 6, 2021 at 4:11

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